A senior Labour activist in Tony Blair's Sedgefield
constituency quit on Monday to campaign for an independent candidate in protest
against the Iraq war.
Derek Cattell, a leading Sedgefield Labour member
for more than a decade, will now support anti-war candidate Reg Keys, whose son
was killed in Iraq.
"It came down to a question of conscience," Cattell
told Reuters. "While I wish to see a Labour government returned to office, I
will not vote or work for the return of Tony Blair in this constituency.
honesty and integrity has been questioned by our involvement in the Iraq war. I
am not prepared to vote through gritted teeth."
Prime Minister Blair has a 17,000-vote majority in
Sedgefield but Cattell said that could be overcome when the country goes to the
polls on May 5.
Opposition to going to war in support of U.S.
president George W. Bush was widespread in Britain and Blair's personal trust
ratings have taken a severe knock.
"If people make a connection between Tony Blair's
actions over Iraq and the whole question of trust, honesty and integrity, they
may well cast their vote for Reg Keys," Cattell said.
Several senior Labour politicians, including former
ministers Robin Cook and Clare Short, have resigned because of Britain's
involvement in Iraq.